A look at the results of 54 races on one recent Saturday showed that 36 races (66 per cent) were won by horses whose starting price was 5/1 or under. A total of 45 races (83 per cent) were won by horses, up to 7/1, while 51 of the 54 (94 per cent) were won by runners up to 10/1.

This suggests to me that anyone looking beyond 7/1 (pre-post or SP) for the winner of any race is setting themselves a tough task.

Working on this basis, I have had a look at breaking the pre-post market into three distinct groups: Up to 7/1, 8/1 to 12/1,14/1 to 20/1 and the remainder. Then, using the Form At A Glance lift-out from Friday's Sportsman, and a reliable betting market, I sort these pre-post price groups into two individual listings.

(1) Best win percentage and (2) best average prizemoney. Both are reasonably sound guides to each runner's ability, especially when the price limitations are incorporated.

Firstly, you take every runner up to 7/1 and place them in order of win percentage (if equals, use best place percentage; if still equals, take lowest barrier number). You do the same for the 8/1 to 12/1 group, and so on.

You now determine a separate list for best average prizemoney. (You will find that 3-colour highlighter pens are excellent to mark the runners from the various groups.)

You now have two lists of runners which may, for example, look like this:

WIN % GROUP
3, 5, 4, 1, 8, 2, 7,6

AVERAGE \$ GROUP
4, 3, 5, 2, 2, 8, 7, 6

To get the best out of these two lists and determine our trifecta combinations, we combine the lists in the following manner:

Take the first two runners from each group. Using the above example, that gives us three runners to win (3, 4, 5). Now take the 3rd and 4th runners in each group. We have 4 and 5 in already, so that leaves runners 1 and 2, which we will include to run 2nd in the trifecta.

Now, rotate between the % and \$ prizemoney groups one at a time. In this instance, we would start with No. 8, to runner No. 1 (already used) down to No. 8 (already used) and back to the % line to runner No. 7. Stop when you have seven runners on your combined listing.

In this example, our seven runners would be numbers 3, 4 and 5 to win, 3, 4, 5, 1 and 2 for 2nd, and 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 8 and 7 for 3rd. This is a 3x5x7 trifecta which, because of double-ups of numbers, would cost only \$60 for a \$1 unit.

Using this scheme, the smallest trifecta you could have is a 2x4x7 for 30 units. The average would be around 50 units. This could be reduced if you take less than seven runners for 3rd. For instance, you could have a 3x5x6 for 48 units, or even a 3x5x5 for 36 units. Sometimes you will only have two selections to win.

My testing shows a 50 per cent strike rate from the first three selections. On a recent occasion, where 28 races were assessed, the method selected the winner-in three 17 times.

Naturally, the runners in the up to 7/1 group take precedence over horses from the two other groups when you are working out the % and \$ groups.

To date, a 3x5x8 (72 unit) combination has performed well week after week. For instance, for the meetings mentioned earlier, the 3x5x8 would have won more than \$2000 from the 28 races, hitting 13 of the 28 trifectas.

With a bit of practice, this method is simple to operate. It takes about two hours to assess all suitable races in four States and prepare the combined listings.

I do not bet on straight races at Flemington or Victoria Park, jumps races or 2yo races where several runners are having their first starts. I do not consider field size to be all that important, though a field limit of 14 may be wise.

Barry Meyer is a PPM reader from Victor Harbour, South Australia.

By Barry Meyer

PRACTICAL PUNTING - NOVEMBER 1997